Internet Growth Sparks Rush for Digital Marketing in Kenya

Digital Content

Competition in the digital marketing field is heating up as firms scramble to gain a larger share of the budding sector. Over five firms are now jostling for a share of the online advertising space, hoping to mark their territory ahead of mass adoption of internet services in the country.

Analysts estimate that spending on digital media is set to reach Sh200 million by the end of the year on the back of aggressive advertising on social media websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Last week, listed media services firm Scangroup deepened its foray into the digital marketing field with the launch of a qualitative research house that will be known as Firefly.

Scangroup hopes to tap into the growing influence of internet based communication in Kenya by providing specialised research services to companies which are considering using digital marketing. "There are fundamental shifts in how consumers communicate that brands must understand if they are to keep in touch with their customers.

"In Kenya, a 372 per cent jump in Facebook users over the last year, signals the need for companies to start thinking about reaching their customers on the site," said Rakesh Kumar, Regional Head for Firefly. The venture is the latest in string of moves by Scangroup that have seen it diversify its product offering by creating focused consultancy offices that specialise in targeted communications.

Recently, the firm launched Squad Digital, a digital marketing firm and a market research and insights company Millward Brown East Africa that Firefly falls under. It also announced a partnership with the South Africa based Smollan Group, a pairing that offered the firm an opportunity to tap into the Sh2.5 billion research industry, taking on incumbents such as Synovate, Research International and Consumer Insight.

As the latest addition to Scangroup's stable, Firefly will offer corporate clients in the region enhanced research capabilities by helping them to navigate the relatively new digital marketing field, with an emphasis on social media use.

The last six months have seen heightened interest by investors in social marketing initiatives, with a South African based company, Habari Media, being the latest firm to set up in the area. "The increasing levels of acceptance of Facebook as a major force in advertising have had a momentous effect on the advertising industry as a whole," said Adrian Hewlett, CEO Habari Media.

Scangroup's competitor in the advertising space, Young and Rubicam, has also restructured its operations to focus on digital marketing in the recent past due to increased demand from clients who want to extend their brand presence online.

The moves are informed by the fact that Kenya is among the most progressive markets on the continent when it comes to use of social media, with small businesses and news outlets dominating use of websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. According to data from social media monitor Socialbakers, the number of Kenyans on Facebook is growing by 35 per cent every month.

Socialbakers research reveals that the most active brands on the site belong to Safaricom, Airtel and Yu, while news delivery is dominated by NTV, Citizen and Capital FM, in that order. Apart from the mobile firms, small businesses form the next largest group of users who use social media to market their goods.

"While small retail outlets are dominating use in the country, the time has come for larger companies to start engaging their customers using social media outlets," said Kate Davidson, Qualitative Director at Firefly.

According to a study carried out by Firefly in Kenya, 11 per cent of Kenyans have accessed internet in the past four weeks, and among those 53 per cent have accessed it on their mobile phone. This study was carried out across five regions. Firefly says that Kenya has just over one million Facebook users, representing 2.8 per cent of the population.